Louie by Harry Hanan

Harry Hanan was a British-American comics artist, best known for his long-running pantomime gag-a-day comic 'Louie' (1947-1976).

Harry Hanan was born in Liverpool, Lancashire, in 1916. He studied art at the Liverpool School of Art, after which he became an illustrator and cartoonist for the Liverpool Evening Express. He also worked as an editor and film critic for this publication, while designing posters and stage sets for theatrical productions in his birth town. In 1940 he married Marjorie Goode. During World War II he fought in the British army as an infrantry commander. After the war he joined the London weekly magazine The People, where he created his signature comic 'Louie' in March 1947. Hanan felt that working on one single comic strip a week was much easier than the newspaper work he did previously. 'Louie' featured a small man with a black moustache. Originally he was a rather unsuccesful criminal, trying to rob people and banks but failing every time. Readers liked his pantomime mishaps and soon 'Louie' was picked up for publication in the United States, where it was syndicated by Publishers-Hall, then moved to The Chicago Tribune Syndicate. Running in over 100 U.S. newspapers, 'Louie' was also published in 23 countries, from Sweden over Turkey to Japan.

Encouraged by the global success, Hanan moved to Westfield, New Jersey, in the USA in November 1948. This had an impact on 'Louie' as well. The little scoundrel abandoned his life of crime and became a honest member of society, though still terribly unlucky. Many have observed the physical resemblance between Hanan and Louie. In a newspaper interview for Editor and Publisher conducted by Erwin Knoll (15 May 1952) Hanan confessed that he too had a little mischievous streak over him. Whenever he saw women with feathered hats he had to surpress the urge to snip the feathers off. The series ran until 1976, after which Hanan retired. He passed away in 1982 at the age of 65.

Hanan was also active as a painter. His works were exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, the Metropolitan Museum in New York and the William Allen White Foundation at the University of Kansas.

Louie on Ger Apeldoorn's blog

Series and books by Harry Hanan in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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